For years, North Korea and leader Kim Jong-un have been one of the biggest talking points around the world. During that time, North Korean officials have been promoting their advancements in weaponry, with some believing that they have the ability to use nuclear weapons at a long range. Because of the growing tension created from North Korea, many countries have been taking a stand against the country.
One major country that decided to part ways with North Korea is Egypt, as they announced that the two countries would no longer be working together. While visiting Seoul, South Korea, Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi confirmed the split. As part of cutting ties with North Korea, Sobhi said that his native country would be working in full cooperation with South Korean officials.
Sobhi said that North Korea has committed acts “that threaten peace,” and the military in Egypt would no longer be working with the country they think could be a serious threat to the world. Song Young-moo is the Defense Minister of South Korea, and he asked Egypt to tighten their sanctions against North Korea because of the missile testing that has taken place in recent years. It comes as a massive change, as North Korea had been selling weapons to Egypt for many years.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been exchanged between Egypt and North Korea, but that will no longer be the case. Allies of North Korea have remained stringent about their support, but now even those that they considered close are now distancing themselves from Kim Jong-un’s nation. Many opponents of North Korea are trying to sway former North Korean allies into further isolating the country so that they don’t receive support, which would hinder their militaristic efforts.
It wasn’t just South Korea that’s been trying to sway Egypt into closing cooperation with North Korea, as the United States also had conversations with the African country to make their announcement. After the United States lowered their aid to Egypt by an estimated $300 million, it helped the country to take a side. Egyptian analyst Mohammed el-Menshawy said that “The recent cut in the U.S. military aid to Egypt was a clear message to Cairo (Egypt): You choose us or North Korea, you cannot have military relations with both of us. Cairo got the message and it cut ties with North Korea.”
Along with the United States and South Korea, Egypt has joined countries such as Mexico, Chile and Argentina that have become full opponents of North Korea. That leaves just very few allies for North Korea, including Russia, China and Benin. Not many African nations have spoken out against North Korea, with Egypt now setting the precedent.
Most of the countries that have maintained diplomatic ties with North Korea are underdeveloped, and exchange aid and weapons with the country. Others have offered up textiles, natural gas and oil to help each other operate, even if their feelings about North Korea might not be in the highest regard. Egypt isn’t the only country that’s been having conversations with the United States about making sacrifices to cut ties with North Korea.
United States State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the change could be as a result of “conversations with Egypt and many other countries around the world about the need to isolate” North Korea. Nauert added that “We do that because we recognize that countries around the world that do business with North Korea enable money to go into North Korea’s illegal nuclear and ballistic weapons program.” She also said that North Korea “is a big concern to the United States.”
North Korea’s weapons program is considered illegal because of sanctions that the United Nations have laid on the country over the years. Recently, the United Nations resolved to put a limit into the imports and exports that North Korea can do with other countries. United States Ambassador Nikki Haley said “We are saying the world will never accept a nuclear armed North Korea…if the North Korean regime does not halt its nuclear program, we will act to stop it ourselves.”
As tensions rise, the United Nations looks to get a bit more aggressive in trying to stop North Korea’s weapons development, even if it means cutting off aid to their allies such as Egypt. “We are done trying to prod the regime to do the right thing,” Haley said. “We are now trying to stop it from having the ability to do the wrong thing.” North Korea has said that they disagree with the sanctions and have threatened action, though there’s been a stalemate between North Korea and its opponents thus far. One North Korean official said that their current nuclear arsenal was to “ensure the security and peace of the homeland.”